Enter the Paperfuge, a small device made from inexpensive bits of paper, plastic, and string that can perform the same basic function as its much larger and more expensive counterparts. Its inventors actually modeled it after a whirligig, one of those super-simple, old-fashioned children's toys with a disc-shaped object threaded onto a string, which gets wound up and and pulled apart like an accordion, causing the object in the middle to rotate wildly. The object in the middle in this case is a thick piece of paper affixed with plastic capillary tubes containing blood samples.
At max speed, the Paperfuge the can reach 125,000 rotations per minute -- making it nearly 10 times faster than many popular commercial centrifuges on the market. It's capable of separating plasma from blood in a minute and a half, or 30 seconds faster than a traditional lab version can. Perhaps most important, it's small enough to slip into your pocket and doesn't require a lick of electricity. Imagine, instead of schlepping an enormous centrifuge machine and the generator needed to power it into remote villages, a single provider could trek there with a Paperfuge in their pocket, diagnose deadly diseases on the spot, and begin treatment immediately. That's huge.